Get Your Used Car in Shape... To Sell! (part 5)

February 12, 2010

Handing Over Keys After SaleThis is the final installment in my series on getting your used car ready to sell, and frankly, its the part most used car sellers fail at miserably.  Heck, even the pros don't get this right!If you followed all of my recommendations in the first four segments, you're now ready to advertise your used car.  It's not difficult, but you do need to understand that the typical strategy of slapping a sign in the car's window, running a classified ad in the local paper, and crossing your fingers is not going to work.  Those days are over.  Very few buyers will ever stop to look at your car parked on the side of the road, and newspapers are dying left and right.According to J.D. Power and Associates, nearly 60% of people who buy used cars and trucks surf the Internet during the shopping process.  So, if you want to sell your car quickly and for a good price, you'll need to list it on some of the more popular selling sites.  Here are my tips on how to do it right.Choosing a Used Car Selling SiteMost Web sites that list used cars charge the seller a small fee, but not all.  Pick the classified ad site you use carefully to avoid wasting time and money.EBay Motors is the largest of all the online automotive market places.  Their fee is $90 per listing.  As with other sales on eBay, you sell your car auction style (buyers make bids), but don't worry, you have control over pricing.  As an eBay seller, you can reserve levels, or minimum sales prices.The next two large selling sites, and, provide a more traditional sales process. On these sites, you advertise your vehicle with a full-page ad and multiple photographs. charges a base $25 for a simple classified with a single picture, and up to $79 for a more elaborate listing with thumbnail photos, a highlighted status to make your ad stand out, and up to 18 photos.I like a lot because they syndicate their ads out to other large sites, including, AOL, and Yahoo! Autos. charges between $25 for a listing with one photo for 30 days to $37.50 for a listing with six pictures that remain available until the car sells.As I mentioned above, not all classified site charge a fee. (Craigslist), one of the largest Internet marketplaces, is one site that does not charge a fee, but you pay a big price for listing goods for sale.  Claigslist ads are not structured, so you're left to create your own format.  If you're an HTML whiz, you can create an okay looking ad in a few minutes.  For the rest of us, its just plain text.Another issue to note is that a Craigslist ad only lasts a few days, so you will need to post it again and again until your used car sells. However, the biggest problem of all is that Craigslist is home to a growing number of spammers, scammers and extremely cheap-minded buyers.Setting the Right Price for Your Used CarOnce you've found the right place to list your used car, you'll need to establish the right selling price.  For this, pay a visit to the Kelley Blue Book site and use their used car valuation tool. It spells out what a used car's value should be by zip code. also offers a used vehicle appraisal tool, which I have used several times to get a second opinion.Your Used Car Won't Sell Online Without Pictures!As I said before, take plenty of pictures.  Pictures help establish a value in the buyer's mind before they ever see the car in person.  A used car listing without photos will be completely overlooked.Your car will attract more potential buyers and sell faster if you have lots of clear photos.  I highly recommend showing both interior and exterior pictures.  Take pictures that show your used car's true condition.  It's even a good idea to take a picture of the odometer to confirm the miles.  It shows buyers that you are honestly disclosing everything.  If you have a car with special options, take pictures and highlight them.  The more detailed your listing is, the better your ad will perform.A Good Ad Starts with a Great HeadlineNo matter where you list your car for sale, it will be competing with many other used cars.  That means you have to make your ad stand out and get attention.  This is done with your ads headline.A headline is like the entrance to a store.  Their purpose is to bring people in.  To bring potential buyers into your ad, you need to make it inviting.  You have to invoke curiosity.If youre standing in the middle of the street, getting another persons attention is as easy as yelling Hey, you!  This does not work online.  What gets a prospects attention online is a headline that interests them.  You have to hints at solving a problem for them or meeting a compelling need.  That means you need to do more than simply headline the make and model.  Appeal to what the car does best.Haul the whole soccer team with this 06 Honda Pilot Like New, Loaded!Be Flexible and Get the SaleSelling a used car is still mostly a face-to-face deal.  That means you must be willing to meet with prospects and engage in negotiation.  All potential buyers will want to take a test drive and get the car inspected.  When you speak with your prospect by telephone or email, ask that they arrive with their driver's license and proof of insurance.Selling your used car yourself on the Internet offers you and the buyer a win-win opportunity.  Chances are you will make a little more and the buyer will save a little (and save the stress of dealing with a used car lot!).  Be willing to negotiate on price a little; just don't be a pushover.Good luck, and happy selling----------------David Bynon is an automotive industry blogger, online community builder, computer science author, and co-author of multiple patents for car care products.  Founder and former owner of the Autopia forum, Bynon loves finely detailed vehicles of all makes and vintage.  You can tune-in to his blog at or follow him on

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